What I Learned From IATEFL 2014…

At the beginning of April, I attended the 48th IATEFL conference in Harrogate in the north of England. As I did last year, I was there as a representative of BELTA but this year had the added excitement of knowing I would be speaking at the Pecha Kucha night on Friday, my first ever presentation at IATEFL.

Ready to represent

So what did I learn while I was there? Here’s my quick guide…

From Rachael Roberts, I learnt that if you want to make effective materials based lessons for your students, you need to carefully consider exactly what you are asking the students to do.
From Russell Mayne, I learnt that there is an appetite for skeptical thinking in ELT, something I find very encouraging. (watch it here)
From Genevieve White, I learnt that writing for social media is a type of writing our adult students increasingly need.
From Nina Jerončič, I learnt that memes aren’t just funny, but are also an effective way of providing our students with a stimulating language learning resource.
From Katy Simpson and Laura Patsko, I learnt that I need to have a serious think about the pronunciation needs of my students, and how I go about fulfilling those needs.
From Jamie Keddie, I learnt that one short, silly video can provide you with a wealth of teaching opportunities.

Just a fraction of the community present.

From Lizzie Pinard, I learnt that there is great value in taking students out of the comfort zone of the classroom (see Mark Andrews below for a similar conclusion).
From Ken Wilson, I learnt that global issues are not just an option for the classroom, but may be part of our responsibility as a teacher. (watch it here)
From Scott Thornbury and Jeremy Harmer, I learnt that the last 40 years of English teaching has witnessed a seismic shift in how we teach, and I’m glad to have been around at this part of it! (watch it here)

The auditorium, a stage I was unexpectedly later to stand on.

From Christina Rebuffet Broadus and Jennie Wright, I learnt how to organise experimental practice (and that I never want to have a teacher that uses the Psychodramaturgie Linguistique technique!)

From Sandy Millin, I learnt that when listened to in isolation, coursebook listening activities can actually sound pretty ridiculous.

From Cecilia Lemos, I learnt that classroom observation is an essential part of any teachers professional growth, but it has to be handled correctly.

It was difficult to get a photo of Mark Andrews, he was always moving about!

From Mark Andrews, I learnt that the wider world offers us a wealth of opportunities for our students to learn not just English, but also culture.

From Sugata Mitra, I learnt that if you’re going to stand in front of a room full of teachers and tell them they will soon be obsolete, you should either have some hard data or redefine what you mean by a teacher (but more on that later). (watch it here)

From Hugh Dellar, I learnt that there are many things we can learn in 20 years, and it’s great to watch someone who has been there report back for our benefit. (watch it here)

Hugh Dellar tackles some ELT pseudoscience myths. About time too!

And I also learnt that doing a Pecha Kucha presentation is one of the most thrilling things you can do. Thanks to Valeria, Burcu, and the rest of my fellow presenters, it was great to share that enormous stage with you!

Watch it here.

I also learnt that I have a lot to say about blogging and in this interview for the IATEFL online, I could have talked for hours! Thanks to Paul, Ann, Willy and Katherine.

Watch it here.

But most of all I was reminded that I am part of an incredible community of committed and selfless professionals. Thanks to every one of you.



2 thoughts on “What I Learned From IATEFL 2014…

  1. Hi James,
    Just read this, and I love this style of summarising. I'm glad that's what you took away from my 45-minute presentation 😉 I particularly like your final three sentences, because I completely agree.
    Looking forward to Manchester next year – I've started saving already!

  2. James,
    This is brilliantly written and succinctly summarises the last conference which I unfortunately missed. It seems like it was one of the best IATEFL conferences in the last years.
    Thank you for sharing your insights

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